Concerns raised in Mexico over avocado imports
The ratification of Mexico's free trade agreement (FTA) with Peru has sparked mixed responses, with many arguing it lacked a clear legal framework and would affect a diverse range of agricultural products, including avocadoes. At www.freshfruitportal.com we catch up with Michoacán Avocado Growers and Packer Exporters Association president Ricardo Vega, who explains the sector's concerns.
Vega says the agricultural must compete with products from abroad, but highlights phytosanitary concerns as the main issue with Peruvian avocado imports.
"We understand that our country is immersed in the global context, in which we should be willing to compete with different products in different countries," he says.
"The same way we go with our fruit to other countries, there are different countries that want to come to Mexico with their products, and that's not just the case with avocadoes.
"I believe it has to be pointed out that we are sending a signal to Peru. We are sending a signal to any avocado that comes from any part of the world."
He says with the emergence of more and more disease mutations, Mexico cannot risk that an exotic pest or disease unknowingly enters Mexico some day.
"That is our concern. We are not saying that because they are Peruvians or because they are Brazilians or because it's a fly or because it's a virus. We have to ensure that our crops are properly protected by the authorities before an incursion of an external agent."
Mexican avocadoes have an annual export value of around US$700 million and are shipped to all parts of the globe, including Japan, China and Europe. In addition, after more than 80 years of phytosanitary barriers, the industry has managed U.S. market access for the product.
"As avocado growers it concerns us a lot that this opening could lead to a laxness in revisions and as a result will come to jeapardize our access to different markets.
"For example the U.S. It took over 80 years to open that market. What happens if we get some exotic phytosanitary problem and as a result they close us off and other markets veto us?
APEAM has been in contact with authorities and has called on them to guarantee the strict application of phytosanitary measures to protect crops. as well as develop and conduct relevant risk analyses, which are the first tests that any country would demand when they want to import something.
"For example, our Chilean peers have had access to the Mexican market for eight years, however they have not managed to place on single avocado in Mexico because they have failed to comply with the phytosanitary protocol our authorities asked of them," says Vega.
With impending Peruvian avocado imports, Vega does not believe there will be an oversupply in the Mexican avocado market.
"The amount that Peru produces now is no more than 70,000 (metric) tons. We produce one million (metric) tons.
He highlights that Peru also has access to other markets like the U.S., Canada and Europe."
What we makes us afraid is that the Economic Minister has consistently refused to establish quality standards. That puts us at risk that any country - once again not just Peru - any country that sends avocadoes or any other product to Mexico, will flood us with second or third class products that other countries don't want."
Peru has only recently sent avocadoes to the U.S. after approval of entry without cold treatment was given in July. The move took the weight off a flooded market of Peruvian avocadoes in Europe.